Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
Word of the Day : February 8, 2012


verb prih-SIND


: to withdraw one's attention


If we prescind from the main issue for a moment, there is much to be gained by studying some corollary questions.

"For my purposes, we may happily prescind from the metaphysics." -- From John Collins' 2011 book The Unity of Linguistic Meaning

Did You Know?

"Prescind" derives from the Latin verb "praescindere," which means "to cut off in front." "Praescindere," in turn, was formed by combining "prae-" ("before") and "scindere" ("to cut" or "to split"). So it should come as no surprise that when "prescind" began being used during the 17th century, it referred to "cutting off" one’s attention from a subject. An earlier (now archaic) sense was even clearer about the etymological origins of the word, with the meaning "to cut short, off, or away" or "to sever." Other descendants of "scindere" include "rescind" and the rare "scissile" ("capable of being cut").

Test Your Memory

What recent Word of the Day means "of, relating to, suggestive of, or resembling a lion"? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day